There's essentially two camps when it comes to Paul Worrilow. The first believes he was tragically misused by the Mike Smith/Mike Nolan coaching staff and has boundless potential waiting to be unleashed. The second believes he's an overrated try-hard player who is an active liability in coverage.
Neither of those camps deny that Worrilow is a young player with potential; the dispute comes when we try to determine whether he's a full-time starter, a part-time starter or a reserve. Yesterday's ESPN.com feature on Worrilow attempted to put Worrilow's future with the Falcons in some context, and while we're no closer to knowing his role, it does sound like the Falcons have high expectations for the third-year linebacker.
To Worrilow's credit, he's his own most strident critic, and he appears to be taking concrete steps to improve his greatest weaknesses heading into 2015. Worrilow has been criticized before for not having the lateral quickness to be an asset in coverage and for, and his training this offseason has been centered on quickness, flexibility and movement. He's also talking about getting lower and working on his leverage, which will be welcome news to anyone who watched him get blown up by a couple of fullbacks a year ago despite his prodigious strength.
With a brand new coaching staff in place, Quinn's strong words of praise for guys like Worrilow and Babineaux (who we covered yesterday) only mean so much. A player like Worrilow was the unquestioned starter the last two seasons, but he knows better than to take that role for granted now, and it's always nice to see a player taking that seriously.
It's entirely possible the Falcons try Brooks Reed at middle linebacker or draft a player who will fight Worrilow for a starting job, but my hunch is that Worrilow projects as a two-down starter who comes off the field on third downs for a more coverage-savvy option. If he can make real strides in his tackling and his coverage, though, he may just surprise us all again.
What are your 2015 expectations for Worrilow?